Government reforms (3): ACAS Guidance – Care home vaccinations

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The guidance encourages consultation with recognised trade union or employee representatives, which should cover (among other things):

What do we already know?

We updated you in our July 2021 Newsletter Government reforms (2): Coronavirus (Covid-19): Mandatory vaccinations for care home staff that the Government announced that from October 2021 anyone working in a registered care home providing nursing or personal care would need to be fully COVID-19 vaccinated with both doses.

We also told you that the Government’s guidance on mandatory vaccinations said that care home staff must be fully vaccinated by 11 November 2021, unless exempt.

What’s new?

ACAS has published new guidance on vaccination for care home staff in England, available here.  The advice helps employees and employers at care homes in England to understand the recent Government rules regarding vaccinations.

The guidance encourages consultation with recognised trade union or employee representatives, which should cover (among other things):

  • Who is exempt.
  • How checks will be undertaken to confirm vaccination status.
  • How compliance with the UK GDPR will be ensured.
  • Time off and pay for staff to get vaccinated and recover from any side effects.

ACAS advises that employers should talk to any staff who are not vaccinated to hear about why they are not, discuss exemptions, and see what support they can offer.  It also includes tips on how to support staff to be fully vaccinated and avoid losing their workers.

The guidance also provides information on how to check if an individual is vaccinated and what information must be recorded. If an employee refuses to be vaccinated and is not exempt, ACAS encourages discussion and informal resolution. It suggests options such as redeployment, short-term paid or unpaid leave (if an employee is awaiting vaccination or proof of exemption), or the undertaking of training for a limited time. If a resolution cannot be found, ACAS advises that employers may start disciplinary proceedings if all available options have been explored. They must follow a fair procedure, including offering the right to appeal any decision. The guidance states that employers should treat everyone fairly and follow discrimination law.

The guidance notes that the vaccination requirement extends to agency workers, contractors, volunteers, work experience students, job applicants and other visitors (such as medical staff, tradespersons and therapists).

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